Every week I watch entirely too much online video. I take the best ones that I find, and compile a weekly Friday viral video round up. And I don't want to be the only guy in the online video world that doesn't compile his own list of the year's best videos. There aren't any rules here on view-count or any other metric... just my own personal opinion. So here you are... arranged by category... the 32 best viral videos of 2011.
Best Baby Videos Of 2011
Few things entertain video fans more consistently than little children, and 2011 was no exception.
Emerson captured hearts and probably bruised some ribs with his hilarious Jeckle-&-Hyde reactions to his mother's nose-blowing. It's one of those rare videos that stays every bit as entertaining no matter how many times you watch it:
A copule different babies went viral in 2011 by merely laughing. My personal favorite is Micah, a boy who is endlessly entertained by the ripping of paper:
Teddy is a pretty adorable little boy. He seems to love wildlife, and definitely has an even mix of curiosity and shyness:
Best Animal Videos of 2011
The only video topic more reliable than babies is animals--particularly cats and dogs, though pretty much any animal will do.
One of the most-viewed videos of the year is Ultimate Dog Tease, in which a dog's mouth movements and facial expressions are given a human voice over. The timing is dead on, as is the humor:
One of the most interesting animal videos of the year doesn't even show the animal on film after the first few seconds... it's the Seagull who stole the GoPro camera. Some might argue that this is likely a bit of viral marketing from GoPro, and that it belongs in the Branded Video Ad category below, but I say that's just splitting hairs:
Finally... you didn't think i was going to leave out the "Cat mom hugs baby kitten" video, did you?
Branded Video Ads of 2011
Brands have more resources and more money than amateur video creators, which means that sometimes the real growth in the medium comes through brands. This year there were too many great branded videos to name, but I'm still going to give you three of my favorites
Just because we've seen it a zillion times by now doesn't mean it doesn't still deserve praise as probably the best (and certainly the most-viewed) online video ad of the year. Volkswagen's "The Force" is cute, clever, and memorable:
Google really socked me in the gut with their Dear Sophie ad, which might be partly to blame on the fact that I saw it not too long after my neice was born:
I love how T-Mobile has just embraced their new role as entertainers in the online video age. For brands to truly go viral, they've got to entertain viewers far more than they market to them... and no brand has mastered this as quickly as T-Mobile. After a sentimental holiday hit in 2010, they returned in the spring with a silly and fun spoof of the royal wedding. Notice how little mobile device messaging the video actually contains... making people smile is the number one goal, which is probably why it grabbed 25 million views:
Best New YouTube Star Of 2011
There are new YouTube stars emerging all the time. In 2011, a few rose to a level of popularity that only a select handful see. My favorites from among them follow...
My Drunk Kitchen is exactly what it sounds like: a girl gets drunk and bakes or cooks... usually with plenty of mistakes and hilarity. It's a testament to the show's star that her personality carries the show far more than the alcohol does:
Epic Meal Time hit the online video scene officially with their big viral hit last Thanksgiving. But it was 2011 where the built their audience and honed their style to the point where an average video from these guys gets 3 or 4 million views easily. Here's this year's Thanksgiving episode:
The Piano Guys have a YouTube channel that is almost exactly one year old. They do a lot with pianos, and a lot with cellos... but everything they do has personality, humor, and exceptional musical talent:
Best Sports Videos Of 2011
One of the best sports videos of the entire year came just last week, when Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson did a somersaulting jump over an upright defender (there are hundreds of versions of this on YouTube right now, this version I'm embedding has over half a million views:
I saw this first-person downhill bike race video in March when it was uploaded. It remains one of the most insane things I've ever seen:
Experience Zero Gravity could go in the Short Film category... or the Camera Tricks category... but it fits nicely into Sports as well:
Best Aspiring Musician Videos Of 2011
2011 was a darn good year for the musical duo known as karminmusic. Their April cover of Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" is over 50 million views, and pretty much all their videos have millions of views at this point. Their personality combines with their talent in a way audiences can't resist.
I still really love this song entirely performed by a voice and some iPad apps, but I guess I was wrong about how "viral" it would end up going. But it's still awesome to me, so it makes the list:
Best Cause Marketing Videos Of 2011
Nonprofits have been impressing me all year long with their creativity and overal quality of video marketing campaigns, and none more so than Get Up Australia, whose "It's Time" ad is still only a month old and already nearing 5 million views:
Friends Of Earth told a common story of romance to make their point, but did so... with a twist:
Cause marketing doesn't have to come from organizations, it can also come from passionate individuals. Like the guy in New York with a pretty legitimate-looking complaint about bike lane laws:
Best Nature Videos Of 2011
There were many great videos showing footage of the tornadoes in Alabama back in the Spring, but none of them were as heart-pounding and pulse-racing as this one:
Watching this time-lapse video of a dust storm in Phoenix just amazes me... I've never seen anything like it in real life, but supposedly they're fairly common down there:
I've also never seen the Northern Lights in real life, but this insanely-popular Vimeo video, simply called "Aurora," is probably as close to the real thing as video can get:
Best Camera Tricks Videos Of 2011
My favorite use of slow motion, and one of my favorite videos overall, is this incoming owl in HD:
Time-lapse allows the viewer to experience something in a short period of time that typically takes much longer to actually occur. The results can be eye-popping and stunning, especially when filmed from space:
Tilt-shift is a camera technique that I'm not yet tired of. The miniature-effect it has, particularly when combined with time-lapse, is unlike anything else:
Best Freddie Wong Videos Of 2011
Do I love Freddie wong videos? Yes I do. So I created a special category just for him. It's my column, I can do what I want.
If you've ever played Mario Kart, you know it's one of the funnest games ever (especially in large groups). You'll also love this "in real life" video from Freddie, which grabbed nearly 15 million views:
As a huge video game fan, Freddie works gaming into most of his videos in one way or another--though not always. In another of my favorite videos of the year, he finally shows us what Mario's perspective is... and it's frightening:
And it's hard to top his short film set in a supermarket, "Cereal Killer":
Best Blooper/Fall/Fail/Accident Videos Of 2011
In the battle of buck versus mountain biker... well, let's just say that mountain biker doesn't exactly win:
I don't know how this skiing blooper only has 42,000 views, I laugh out loud almost every time I see it:
Oh what the heck... I'll give you one bonus video... but only because I love it so much. May it put a smile on your face to begin the new year:
Happy New Year everyone.